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The body responsible for inspecting schools and other educational and training providers, and monitoring and reporting upon their performance. Created following the Education (Schools) Act 1992, it constituted a new system of schools inspection which replaced that previously carried out by Her Majesty's Inspectorate (HMI), a body which had been much reduced in size following reorganization. Ofsted is headed by the Chief Inspector of Schools in England, who leads an inspectorate made up of HMIs and other inspectors, many of whom take part in inspections on a part‐time or consultancy basis.

Initially, inspections were carried out under the Education Act 1992 (section 9) and then later under the School Inspections Act 1996 (section 10). There have been two major changes to the role and functioning of Ofsted since its introduction. One is the introduction of ‘lighter‐touch’ inspections. In 2003 Ofsted produced a strategic plan for the years 2004–7, which included the proposal that it should engage in a fundamental review of its approach to the inspection of schools. Consultation took place between 10 February and 8 April 2004, which resulted in a reformed inspection framework, published in November 2004 and put into effect from September 2005. These changes to the statutory basis of school inspections, including the introduction of small‐team, shorter inspections, were enshrined in the Education Act 2005. The second major change was to the scope and remit of Ofsted. In April 2007, following the Education and Inspections Act 2006, four specialist inspectorates, including the Adult Learning Inspectorate, became amalgamated with Ofsted to create an expanded inspection service responsible for monitoring and regulating standards of provision in care for children and young people and inspecting the education and training provision for all age groups as well as in schools. Ofsted is now responsible for inspecting the sufficiency of provision to safeguard and promote the welfare of children and young people. This includes reporting on whether systems are in place to protect them from maltreatment and prevent the impairment of their health or development, and to ensure that their circumstances are consistent with the provision of safe and effective care. These multi‐disciplinary inspections of local authorities' provision allow Ofsted to make judgements about the overall quality of provision in the geographical area covered by that local authority. This expansion of its remit is reflected in the revised name, which was originally simply the Office for Standards in Education, although its original abbreviation has been retained. See also lead inspector.

Subjects: Education.

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